This is part of Athlete Daily’s series highlighting high-level athletes across the world of strength training and functional fitness, and how they approach diet and nutrition. Learn what some of the best athletes in the world eat, how they fuel themselves and lessons learned along the way.
Ewa Januszkiewicz was born in Goldap, Poland, and moved to the U.S. at five years old. She attended Smith College, where she earned her B.A. in Neuroscience. After playing soccer at Smith, tearing both of her ACLs, and suffering a back injury, the 25-year-old took up powerlifting and has since squatted 325 lb., benched 171 lb., and deadlifted 430 lb. raw in competition.
The 2016 Arnold Champion in the 63 kg class, Januszkiewicz is a clinical study coordinator doing research on neurodegenerative disease. She’s also in school part-time working to fulfill prerequisites for Physician Assistant School.
The 26-year-old, who lives in Connecticut, took some time out of her busy day to talk to Athlete Daily about her nutrition…
Athlete Daily: For those who may not know you, tell us a little about yourself. How did you start powerlifting? How did you get to where you are now, an elite-level powerlifter?
Januszkiewicz: “I started powerlifting by the grace of my coach, Ryan Gleason, forcing me into a competition against my will. I’m serious! He signed me up for a meet and the rest was history. I fell in love with the competitive component and with the notion that I can be a woman while also being strong.
It’s always an interesting question to be asked, “how did you get to where you are now?”, because I think we all do it in the same way; hard work! You need to train appropriately, meaning do not overtrain and do not undertrain, recover adequately, and have a plan. For lifting, we (my coach and I) have a one year, two year, and five-year plan. Will it always go as you expected? No, absolutely not. But the cool thing is, is that it might go even better than you’d expected.”
Athlete Daily: What is your approach to nutritition? Paleo, zone, macros, etc.
Januszkiewicz: “I work with Nick Shaw, CEO of Renaissance periodization. I follow the RP style of dieting, which is focuses on the nutritional pyramid that they often post about: (from most important to least important) calorie balance, food composition (quality of food), macronutrient amounts, nutrient timing, hydration, and supplements.
I love this approach because you are still able to have the occasional break in dieting as you do with flexible dieting, but there is also the added emphasis on strength goals. By incorporating the right nutritional intake at the right time, your body performs at the optimal level.”
Athlete Daily: Has your approach to nutrition changed at all or did you always eat the same way you do now?
Januszkiewicz: “My approach to nutrition has changed DRASTICALLY. I mean, seriously a 180. I used to be focused on being small, losing weight, and all I did was eat less food. I still ate like I was in college, but less of it. It was the entirely wrong approach.
Once I began to learn more about macros and sports performance related to dieting, I became more invested in eating to perform, rather than eating [less] to achieve aesthetic ideals. As I began training more, increasing my weekly tonnage [lifted], increasing the intensity of my training, and competing more frequently, I was able to add in more carbs and proteins.
I still have cheat meals, and in the off season I definitely give myself more leeway with my diet. Afterall, I am 25 and I want to enjoy my life with friends and family who aren’t always necessarily focused on dieting! This simply comes down to balancing my lifestyle.”
Athlete Daily: How long are your training sessions typically? How many days a week? Multiple sessions in a day?
Januszkiewicz: “My training sessions are typically 2.5 hours. I train 4-6 days a week, depending on how hectic my work and school schedules are. Ideally, I would do multiple sessions in a day, but my job is very important to me, and so is my recovery, which means waking up at 5 am is simply not going to work for me.
I found that finding a schedule that works for you is essential, not only for performance but also for happiness. This is also fluid; your life is not always going to go as planned, and you need to be flexible in what time/how often you train.”
Athlete Daily: At what point in your athletic career did you kind of realize the importance of nutrition and using food to fuel your performance?
Januszkiewicz: “I would say that I finally realized the importance of nutrition and using food to fuel my performance after my first national competition. I was not near the weight I needed to be to compete, as they just changed the classes to match those of the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF), and I had to do a huge water cut.
My performance suffered, my health suffered, and I performed poorly. That’s when it hit me that I can really make a dent in this sport, if I just get myself together. I began with flexible dieting, and worked my way onward from there.”
Athlete Daily: What’s your favorite meal/food? Are there any foods you avoid completely?
Januszkiewicz: “My favorite meal is usually sushi! It has a bunch of sodium and carbs/proteins/fats that are great to replenish the body post workout. However, I have recently partnered with Trifecta Nutrition Systems and I absolutely love the bulk foods.
You throw the chicken, steak, salmon, or beef in the oven, roast up some veggies and you have a delicious, organic meal ready to go. It’s made my life so much easier to have bulk, prepped foods ready for me. I don’t ever completely avoid certain foods, but I tend to stay away from sweets and chips.”
What I Eat in a Day: Ewa Januszkiewicz
Wake up at 6:15 am
Breakfast (7:30 am) – avocado, broccoli or tomatoes, grilled chicken, 1 egg
Lunch 1 (11:00 am) – brown rice with coconut oil and cinnamon, turkey burger, salad with lemon
Lunch 2 (2:30 pm) – Quinoa with sea salt, grilled chicken, broccoli
Train 4:30-7:00 pm – Intraworkout shake: Grind vanilla protein with gatorade or berry blitz Max isolate with carb supplement
Dinner (7:30 pm) – Salmon, salad with olive oil and vinegar, brown rice, an apple
Athlete Daily Nutrition Series
Week 1 — CrossFit Games athlete Emily Bridgers
Week 2 — CrossFit athlete Christian Lucero
Week 3 — CrossFit Games Masters athlete Cheryl Brost
Week 4 — U.S. Olympic Team Weightlifter Morgan King
Week 5 — Human Improvement Project’s Gabe Subry
Week 6 — Weightlifter, GRID CrossFit athlete Marco Coppola
Week 7 — CrossFit Games athlete Lindy Barber
Week 8 — GRID and CrossFit athlete Jamie Hagiya
Week 9 — GRID athlete Andrew Rape
Week 10 — Olympic lifter Anthony Pomponio
Week 11 —CrossFit athlete Andrea Ager
Week 12 —Powerlifter Ewa Januszkiewicz
Week 13 — Weightlifter and Powerlifter Kris Pope
Week 14 — Weightlifter Travis Cooper
Week 15 — Weightlifter Cortney Batchelor